Today, we’re going to look at how different homepage usability is from wide use form and content delivery usability. Well, I’ve always been bigger with mobile, SaaS and the like, more so than straight up website design, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the necessary grasp of homepages and the concerns and goals that must be managed in designing these.
The first thing to do, when considering homepage usability, is to think about the purpose of a homepage. Well, this depends on the type of homepage you’re designing above all else. If it’s for a service, rather than a general access website, then the criteria change quite a bit. So, we’ll have to look at key points for both. I really wish we were being more specific, in that regard, this time around because this complicates things to a very obnoxious level indeed.
First, the things that truly matter. This starts with eye tracking, which matters equally, with the same basic criteria, across the board, be it a web page, an application or even a static image like an infographic or the like.
Eye tracking is important, because it lets you predict as well as shape the order in which the user perceives parts of the design. I’m not going to go into detail here about how to manage eye tracking, because we’ve talked that into the ground, and beyond this into the mantle at this point really.
Just know that, with your landing or home page, this counts double, because it’s conveying either who you are as a website, or what you are as a service, and presents all the directions you can go within these bounds.
Next, another important thing is to be sure that your menu is not only obvious in that it is a menu, but that it is also very easy to use. It’s easy to think that, with modern web technologies being what they are, that slick drop down menus and other fancy interface elements are a good idea for this, but in truth, it’s usually annoying.
Some devices that are in fact compliant with IEEE, ISO and W3C standards are still unable to render these right due to resolutions or processing power, or, the input method just isn’t conducive. I’m looking at you, touchscreens and mobile devices.
Finally, and this one may surprise you, because eye tracking also encompasses logical layout and presentation, I want to talk about floating elements and social media buttons.
Stop it, everyone. Just, stop it. These things are so annoying, for three reasons. First of all, again, these get in the way majorly while using mobile interfaces. Second, they interfere with the eye tracking and the whole thematic presentation you want to covey by littering your site with logos and buttons that do nothing pertinent. Finally, it’s e-begging for social clout, and while I see social networks as valuable inventions that do have a lot of uses, I grow tired of them being forced on everyone.
Now, people expect you to just have an account with every social network known to man, and to be active in them. It’s the same problem where, six years ago, people assumed everyone had a mobile phone when they did not.
Stop it. Especially if this is SaaS, free or otherwise!
So, homepage usability is a little different, but you’ll find that it’s not so different that you have to unlearn or relearn anything.